The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) is a voluntary
program which offers financial support to landowners' wetlands
restoration and protection projects. WRP authorizes the Federal
government to obtain conservation easements from land owners,
and provides cost-share payments for wetlands rehabilitation
practices. Restoration of wetland hydrology and vegetation
restores the functions and values of wetlands for migratory
birds and other wildlife, improves water quality, aides in
flood water retention and ground water recharge, increases
open space, and provides aesthetic values and environmental
education opportunities. WRP allows and encourages tree plantings
which are primarily focused upon wetland rehabilitation.
WRP accomplishes two things: first, the program
allows the federal government to participate in the acquisition
of easements. The federal government buys easements at a price
equal to the lesser of the agricultural value of the land,
an established payment cap, or an amount offered by the landowner.
Second, WRP provides cost share assistance to restore wetland
functions and values. Cost share of up to 50% of project cost
is available to landowners transferring 30 year easements
to the government; rates of between 75 and 100% may be available
in support of projects undertaken on permanent easements.
Even after enactment of easements, the landowner controls
access to the property. The WRP easement does not include
public hunting, fishing or other public access, unless the
landowner desires to include them in the easement contract.
WRP assistance is based on the potential benefit
which the public may realize from wetland protection and restoration
- projects and lands with the greatest wetland values are
given the highest priority. Generally, agricultural lands
containing restorable wetlands are eligible for funding, although
forested lands are only eligible for participation in WRP
if they are not enrolled in CRP. Sale or donation of WRP easements
may provide landowners with a variety of tax benefits, including
reduction in ad velorum tax liability and capitol gains/losses;
landowners should contact a tax consultant to determine their
eligibility for tax benefits.
and Informational Contacts
The National Resource Conservation Service
(NRCS) administers the Wetlands Reserve Program. For additional
information contact the Conservation and Environmental Protection
Division of NRCS, or your local NRCS Conservationist.
Resources Conservation Service
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